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The Kadima Party took a key step toward maintaining its image as a centrist party on Monday when its faction in the Knesset unanimously approved a plan to reserve the second slot on its list in the February 10 election for right-leaning Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz.
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni had expressed concern in recent days that her party was seen as too far Left. She told confidants that it disturbed her to see Kadima included in a "Left bloc" against a "Right bloc" in the polls.
Livni said that Kadima's status as a centrist party would enable her to form a government with parties on both sides of the political map.
She expressed confidence that she could bring the Likud and Israel Beiteinu into a government she would lead.
"The last few days have proven how important this election is and sharpened the fact that there is a choice between different political paths," Livni told the Kadima faction. "The Likud wants to stop everything and the Left wants to give up everything, while we want to act responsibly in a way that maintains Israel's interests."
The source in Kadima said the party could not have appealed successfully to the center-Right under Livni's leadership without Mofaz.
Livni had sought a solution that would allow Mofaz to run as her number two on the Kadima list and balance out the top of her party's slate. But Kadima's legal adviser had prevented reserving a slot for Mofaz, because the party's bylaws would require a vote among the entire party membership to approve the move.
The faction decided Monday to approve a compromise suggested by Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ya'acov Edri whereby the vote on the second slot on the list would be held separately from the rest of the party's slate of candidates. No one will run against Mofaz for the second slot, so the vote will not be needed.
"It's a good solution that prevents rifts in the party and I hope all our internal problems are now behind us," said Edri, who has initiated three compromises in recent weeks that have prevented infighting in Kadima.
The proposal, which still must pass in Kadima's election committee and council, allows Mofaz to avoid running in the primary less than three months after he lost to Livni by only 400 votes among the same electorate of the 74,000 Kadima members.
The election committee will meet Tuesday to decide on a date for the primary, select the election procedure and consider a plan suggested by Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit to give Livni the right to add more women and new immigrants after the 20th slot on Kadima's list if not enough are chosen. A source in the party said Livni hoped to see at least four immigrants from the Former Soviet Union among Kadima's top 30 Knesset candidates.
Livni is waiting to see whether Vice Premier Haim Ramon will decide to run for the next Knesset with Kadima. While Ramon has been quoted telling Kadima officials that he was "sick and tired of politics," he has denied that this would prevent him from running.
A former MK who is close to Ramon, asked if Ramon had consulted with him about his future, said, "He barely consults with himself."
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